Title:
Method for checking the friction capability of an exhaust gas catalytic converter
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
In a process for monitoring the function capability of an exhaust-gas catalytic converter 5 located in the exhaust line 3 of an internal combustion engine 1, based on the measured or computed signals of a first lambda probe 6a located upstream from the catalytic converter 5 and of a second lambda probe 6b located downstream from the catalytic converter 5, the two lambda probes 6a, 6b and the catalytic converter 5 having reached their operating temperature, it is suggested that an air quantity control means 4 located in the intake line 2 is partially opened during the coasting phase of the internal combustion engine 1 in order to cool the catalytic converter 5 located in the exhaust line 3, so that in the catalytic converter 5 an axial temperature distribution forms over time, from the signals of the two lambda probes 6a, 6b and the temperature distribution the axial distribution of the oxygen storage capacity OSC of the catalytic converter 5 being computed, and using this distribution of the oxygen storage capacity OSC the functional capability of the exhaust-gas catalytic converter 5 being assessed. As suggested, an improved process for checking is made available which moreover allows differentiation of the functional capability for conversion of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides.



Inventors:
Odendall, Bodo (Lenting, DE)
Application Number:
11/785830
Publication Date:
12/06/2007
Filing Date:
04/20/2007
Assignee:
Audi AG (Ingolstadt, DE)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
60/285
International Classes:
F01N3/00
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Primary Examiner:
BOGUE, JESSE SAMUEL
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Novak Druce Connolly Bove + Quigg LLP (Washington, DC, US)
Claims:
1. Method for monitoring the function capability of an exhaust-gas catalytic converter located in an exhaust line of an internal combustion engine, based on measured or computed signals of a first lambda probe located upstream from the catalytic converter and of a second lambda probe located downstream from the catalytic converter, the two lambda probes and the catalytic converter having reached their operating temperature, the method comprising at least partially opening an air quantity control means located in the intake line of the internal combustion engine during a coasting phase of the internal combustion engine in order to cool the catalytic converter located in the exhaust line of the internal combustion engine, so that in the catalytic converter an axial temperature distribution forms over time, from the signals of the two lambda probes computing a temperature distribution the axial distribution of the oxygen storage capacity (OSC) of the catalytic converter, and using the distribution of the oxygen storage capacity (OSC) the functional capability of the exhaust-gas catalytic converter.

2. The process as claimed in claim 1, wherein the axial temperature distribution over time is measured by means of a temperature acquisition means or is computed by means of a temperature model.

3. The process as claimed in claim 1, wherein based on the distribution of the oxygen storage capacity (OSC) different axial regions of the catalytic converter are assessed, a decrease of the oxygen storage capacity (OSC) which exceeds given boundary values indicating damage in at least one of the axial regions of the catalytic converter.

4. The process as claimed in claim 1, wherein when the oxygen storage capacity (OSC) decreases or the axial region of the catalytic converter which lies at the beginning in the flow direction is damaged, degraded conversion of the hydrocarbons (HC) contained in the exhaust gas is deduced.

5. The process as claimed in claim 1, wherein when the oxygen storage capacity (OSC) decreases or the axial region of the catalytic converter which lies at the end in the flow direction is damaged, degraded conversion of the nitrogen oxides (NOx) contained in the exhaust gas is deduced.

6. The process as claimed in claim 1, wherein the method is carried out in given time intervals in which a significant decrease of the functional capability of the catalytic converter can be expected.

7. An internal combustion engine comprising: an upstream intake line; an exhaust line comprising a catalytic converter, a first lambda probe positioned in the exhaust line upstream from the catalytic converter; a second lambda probe positioned in the exhaust line downstream from the catalytic converter; and means for measuring a temperature distribution within the catalytic converter.

8. The engine of claim 7, wherein the measuring means comprises a plurality of sensors.

9. The engine of claim 8, wherein the sensors are distributed equidistantly axially to the catalytic converter.

10. The engine of claim 7, further comprising an air quantity control means for limiting the amount of air supplied to the engine.

11. A method of operating an internal combustion engine comprising an upstream intake line; an exhaust line comprising a catalytic converter, a first lambda probe positioned in the exhaust line upstream from the catalytic converter; and a second lambda probe positioned in the exhaust line downstream from the catalytic converter; the method comprising: computing an oxygen storage capacity by utilizing signals from the first and second lambda probes.

12. The method of claim 11, further comprising detecting damage to the catalytic converter by measuring a voltage of the signal of the second lambda probe over time.

13. The method of claim 12, further comprising managing expected degradation of the conversion of hydrocarbons in the catalytic converter based on the detected damage.

14. The method of claim 11, further comprising measuring a temperature at which the oxygen storage capacity is maximized.

Description:

This invention relates to a process for checking the function capability of an exhaust-gas catalytic converter located in the exhaust line of an internal combustion engine, based on the computed or measured signals of a first lambda probe located upstream from the catalytic converter and of a second lambda probe located downstream from the catalytic converter, the two lambda probes and the catalytic converter having reached their operating temperature.

DE 199 13 901 C2 discloses a process for checking the functional capability of the catalytic converter of a lambda-controlled internal combustion engine, the catalytic converter efficiency being determined by ascertaining the temperature-dependent oxygen storage capacity. The oxygen storage capacity yields a measure of the functional capability of the catalytic converter, this measure however being definitive only in steady-state or quasi steady-state operating state.

Document DE 42 01 136 C2 discloses a process for monitoring the functional capability of a catalytic exhaust system of an internal combustion engine, the catalytic converter having a number of temperature sensors for detection of the axial and time behavior, and on that basis the catalytic activity of the exhaust system is determined.

On the basis of this prior art, the object of this invention is to make available an improved process for checking the functional capability of an exhaust-gas catalytic converter which allows onboard diagnosis during operation of the internal combustion engine and in the case of a defect of the catalytic converter enables differentiation of the defect following inadequate conversion of the hydrocarbon during reduction and following insufficient conversion of nitrogen oxides during oxidation, as will be required by future stricter legislation. Moreover as much as possible no additional emissions will be caused by this process and this inboard diagnosis.

This object is achieved by an air quantity control means located in the intake line of the internal combustion engine being at least partially opened during the coasting phase of the internal combustion engine in order to cool the catalytic converter located in the exhaust line of the internal combustion engine, so that in the catalytic converter an axial temperature distribution forms over time, from the signals of the two lambda probes and the temperature distribution the axial distribution of the oxygen storage capacity of the catalytic converter being computed, and using this distribution of the oxygen storage capacity the functional capability of the exhaust-gas catalytic converter being assessed. So that it is ensured that possible moisture in the exhaust line does not precipitate on the lambda probes, which could damage them, and that the catalytic converter already shows its conversion performance by which exhaust gas emissions are kept low, for setting the temperature gradient in the catalytic converter, for example a heat-up phase following a cold start of the internal combustion engine is not used, but an artificial cooling phase is produced. Here the relationship that the oxygen storage capacity of the catalytic converter also changes with the temperature-dependent pollutant conversion is used. So that the degree of the artificial cooling phase is sufficient, the air quantity control means is at least partially or completely opened so that a change of the signals of the lambda probes which can be evaluated and a sufficient temperature gradient over the different axial regions of the catalytic converter occur.

Within the catalytic converter, the axial temperature distribution can be measured over time by means of a temperature acquisition means or computed by means of a temperature model. For reasons of costs, primarily the use of a temperature model is recommended, but its having to have a corresponding accuracy, so that the catalytic converter can be divided for example into five succeeding temperature regions.

Advantageously, based on the axial distribution of the oxygen storage capacity various axial regions of the catalytic converter are assessed. To do this the computed oxygen storage capacities are compared to given boundary values for the different axial regions, which values must be maintained.

In the case of damage at the beginning of the catalytic converter, poorer conversion of hydrocarbons (HC) can be deduced. This is because the reduced oxygen storage capacity of the beginning has an effect on the conversion of the increased formation of hydrocarbons especially during heat-up of the catalytic converter, since most of the HC conversion must be performed by the initially heated first region of the catalytic converter.

And for damage at the end of the catalytic converter, poorer conversion of nitrogen oxides (NOx) can be deduced. This is because the reduced oxygen storage capacity of the end acts on conversion of the increased proportion of nitrogen oxides during cooling and during lean operation, since most of the NOx conversion must be performed by the uncooled last region of the catalytic converter.

Preferably the process is carried out at given time intervals in which a significant decrease of the functional capability of the catalytic converter can be expected. This is because by opening the air quantity control means and cooling the catalytic converter the total balance of exhaust gas emission is otherwise unnecessarily degraded and the catalytic converter is unnecessarily burdened.

This invention will be explained with reference to the following drawings.

FIG. 1 shows a schematic of an internal combustion engine with a catalytic converter in which the proposed process is used;

FIG. 2 shows a first diagram of the oxygen storage capacity of a new and an old catalytic converter over temperature;

FIG. 3 shows a second diagram of the oxygen storage capacity of a new and an old catalytic converter over time; and

FIG. 4 shows another diagram of various signals of the lambda probe following the catalytic converter over time.

The simplified representation from FIG. 1 shows an internal combustion engine 1 with an upstream intake line 2 and a downstream exhaust line 3.

The intake line 2 comprises an air quantity control means 4 which is made for example as a simple flap and which limits the amount of air supplied to the internal combustion engine.

The exhaust line 3 comprises a catalytic converter 5 which is made for example as a three-way catalytic converter, a first lambda probe 6a located upstream from the catalytic converter 5, and a second lambda probe 6b located downstream from the catalytic converter 5. Moreover a temperature acquisition means 7 can be assigned to the catalytic converter; it comprises a number of individual sensors distributed equidistantly axially to the catalytic converter, by which the temperature distribution which forms within the catalytic converter 5 can be directly measured.

The measured signal of the first lambda probe 6a however can also be replaced by a lambda value obtained by means of model computation. And the temperature distribution can also be computed instead of a measurement by the temperature acquisition means 7 likewise by means of a temperature model.

As claimed in the invention, the air quantity control means 4 can be for example completely opened when there is a coasting phase in the internal combustion engine 1 for a period of up to 10 seconds. In this way the catalytic converter which is hot from operation and which is located in the exhaust line is flooded with intake air and effectively cooled, so that in its interior a temperature gradient suitable for its subsequent evaluation is formed.

FIGS. 2 and 3 illustrate how the oxygen storage capacity OSC of the catalytic converter 5 computed from the signals of the two lambda probes 6a, 6b and the temperature distribution changes as a function of ageing.

In FIG. 2, by comparing a first curve OSCnew for a new catalytic converter 5 and a second curve OSCold for an old catalytic converter 5, it becomes clear that the maximum attainable oxygen storage capacity OSC is reduced with increasing ageing. Moreover, with increasing ageing the average temperature T at which the catalytic converter 5 reaches is maximum oxygen storage capacity OSC is pushed up.

And in FIG. 3, using the first curve OSCnew for a new catalytic converter 5 and two other curves OSCold1 and OSCold2 for equally old catalytic converters 5, it is shown that the maximum attainable oxygen storage capacity OSC of the catalytic converter 5 decreases as ageing increases. In this connection moreover the effect arises that damage of the region located in the flow direction at the beginning of the catalytic converter 5 according to curve OSCold1 causes a drop of the oxygen storage capacity OSC earlier in time, while damage of the region which is located in the flow direction at the end of the catalytic converter 5 according to curve OSCold2 does not have a major effect on the drop of the oxygen storage capacity OSC.

Finally, FIG. 4 shows how the presence of damage of different axial regions of the catalytic converter 5 can be deduced from the behavior of the voltage signal ULambda of the second lambda probe 6b located downstream from the catalytic converter 5 over time t. For this purpose, FIG. 4 contains a first curve Unew for a new catalytic converter 5 without damage and three other curves Uold1, Uold2 and Uold3 for an old catalytic converter 5 with different damage. Fundamentally, it applies that the second lambda probe 6b indicates the presence of damage of the catalytic converter 5 by the voltage signal ULambda of the second lambda probe 6b rising prematurely. In this connection, for damage of the region of the catalytic converter 5 which lies in the flow direction at the beginning according to curve Uold1 the rise occurs earlier in time than for damage of the region of the catalytic converter 5 located in the flow direction at the end according to curve Uold2. If however there is damage both to the beginning region and also the end region in the aged catalytic converter 5, the rise of the voltage signals of the two curves Uold1 and Uold2 is added so that behavior according to curve Uold3 results.

If therefore there is damage at the beginning of the catalytic converter 5, the expected degradation of the conversion of hydrocarbons (HC) to be managed especially during the starting phases is deduced and if the damage is at the end of the catalytic converter 5, conversely the expected deterioration of conversion of hydrocarbons (HC) or nitrogen oxides (NOx) is deduced. Accordingly a defect of the catalytic converter 5 is finally indicated.

REFERENCE NUMBERS

  • 1 internal combustion engine
  • 2 intake line
  • 3 exhaust line
  • 4 air quantity control means
  • 5 exhaust-gas catalytic converter
  • 6a first lambda probe
  • 6b second lambda probe
  • 7 temperature detection means